My recent picks of affordable wines at Trader Joe's are fine Bordeaux wines. The 2009 Chateau Meric ($9.95; left in the photo above) is a typical Medoc (region 1 on Bordeaux map) blended Cabernet Sauvignon wine with smooth/silky tannins, the aroma of ripe red fruits (blueberry and cherry) and a hint of vanilla. It has an attractive ruby color with a slight amber reflection. This wine should age well for the next few years but is deliciously ready to drink for this holiday season.
2004 Chateau de La Riviere ($14.95) is from a well-reputed, historic winery in Fronsac (region 12 on map) and is a bargain. Fronsac "appellation" (the district where a wine's grapes were grown; e.g., Napa, Sonoma, etc.) is located west of St.-Emilion, next to Pomerol and has a reputation for great value in red Bordeaux wine. I love how this wine bursts with wonderful fruity aromas as soon as the bottle is uncorked, and its luscious, fine Merlot flavor. This wine needs to be decanted. "Decanting" is a way to remove the deposit of tannins and color pigments that build up in older wines. The bottle needs to be stood upright several hours before you start. Next, gently remove the cork and wipe around the neck to clean it, inside and out. Pour out all the wine slowly and carefully in one movement to transfer to a clean, clear glass bottle, pitcher or decanter, leaving just the sediment in the original bottle.
Trader Joe's sells the 2007 Chateau de la Riviere, but the 2004 is definitely a better wine, plus you have an opportunity to practice decanting.
More tips on storing, decanting and serving wine at the wineloverscellar.net.
2009 Chateau Meric, Medoc (above)
2004 Chateau De La Riviere